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above: postmodern French philosopher Jacques Derrida goes bowling (Adobe Stock)

Society & Culture

Bowling Alone in Columbine

Politics are over in America. Political maneuvering will go on, of course, but the old civics class view of American political life was based on a set of assumptions that are no longer operative.
 
First, America was far more homogenous before the 1965 Immigration Act and the “New Left” political and social revolution of the ’60s changed the country demographically and culturally. Even then, the old America of regional cultures was about as diverse as a polity could be and still remain stable.
 
America, with her Anglo-Saxon political heritage, was a country bound together by a considerable reserve of social capital and public trust. It was understood that a loss at election time did not mean an existential crisis (the election of 1860 notwithstanding). Politics were not zero-sum. That is no longer true. And that means that the old politics, which had been hollowed out over a period of decades, are largely a thing of the past.
 
Second, American politics are no longer merely about policy. Policies can be bargained over within a procedural framework that once included shared cultural assumptions. But policy wonks cannot resolve internal disputes about the most fundamental...

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